Holden Cup Round 23 previews
The players to watch and predicted results for Round 23 of the National Youth Competition.
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
The Bulldogs might have edged the Bunnies when the sides last met in Round 7, but you can expect a different outcome when they go head-to-head on Thursday night.
The blue and whites have slid down to 14th spot on the ladder and they'll be out to the spoil the party as the Rabbitohs continue their push for a spot in the top eight.
Last week's win over the high-flying Dragons has them just two points behind the eighth-placed Broncos, and with Brisbane set to face the table-topping Sharks, the Rabbitohs know a big win on Thursday could see them sneak into a playoff position.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 18
Eels v Knights
Given the nature of this year's Holden Cup, you can count on several match-ups each round being virtual four-point games.
That'll be the case when the fifth-placed Eels host a Knights side snapping at their heels and in scorching form after putting 70 points past the Warriors.
Parramatta have won four on the trot, and with a top four spot on the line, we'll back them in a tight one at home.
Tip: Eels by 8
Broncos v Sharks
They kicked off the season with one of the most dramatic finishes in NYC history, but a lot has changed since the Broncos scored with the final play of the contest to steal a pulsating 40-38 win over the Sharks in Round 1.
The Sharks have lost just once since then and another win on Friday will seal the minor premiership with three rounds remaining.
While there is no doubting their class, Cronulla will be tested by a Brisbane side that is riding high after they jumped back into the top eight courtesy of a thrilling two-point win over the Titans last week.
You can expect plenty of points on what should be a fast track up north, but we'll stick with the visitors to get the job done.
Tip: Sharks by 12
Dragons v Titans
They might be sitting pretty in third spot but the Dragons will face a stern test on Saturday morning when they host a desperate Titans side that needs to win to stay in touch with the top eight.
The Dragons have been one of the most consistent sides in 2017 but they've hit a roadblock with just one win from their past five matches, which started with a narrow loss to the Titans back in Round 17.
Currently one point outside the eight, the Titans need to win to keep pressure on the sides around them on the ladder. They'll take comfort from the fact they scored 52 points the last time they were in Sydney.
Tip: Dragons by 4
Storm v Roosters
Barring a miracle, neither of these sides will be playing finals footy in 2017 but that doesn't mean Saturday's clash won't be exciting.
The last time they met, Melbourne claimed a thrilling 35-34 win and you can expect plenty of points with both teams keen to finish the year on a high.
Tip: Roosters by 8
Panthers v Cowboys
Arguably the game of the round pits a couple of top four teams against each other in a rematch of last year's preliminary final.
The Panthers might have claimed victory on that occasion but it was the Cowboys who picked up the two competition points when they clashed earlier this year.
There's a lot to like about both teams' chances, but we'll lean to the Cowboys in a tight one.
Tip: Cowboys by 6
Warriors v Raiders
The Warriors' season threatens to spiral out of control after they conceded 70 points for the second time in three weeks to remain rooted to the foot of the table.
They'll hope to salvage some pride against a Raiders side that has managed just one win away from home this season.
Tip: Raiders by 14
Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles
Much like their NRL side, the Tigers probably deserve to be higher up on the ladder, and they'll have a chance to rectify that when they play host to the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
The Sea Eagles fell agonisingly short of what would have been a record-equalling comeback against the Roosters, and Sunday's clash looms as a must-win with several of the sides above them on the ladder set to do battle.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 12
Last week's results: 7/8
Season results: 111/160